The European season is now over and I have had a few athletes talking rather candidly about leg shaving, wondering if next season they should do this, particularly with regard to cycling aerodynamics. So let's quickly get into this:
Does Leg Shaving Help Cycling Aerodynamics?
You may have heard that shaving your legs improves aerodynamics in cycling, but this is a complete myth in real life. Yes, on test there are marginal gains over distance, but you would have to put in an Olympic bike-speed performance for the entire Iron distance race and even then it would possibly save you only a second.
Why do Triathletes Shave their legs?
There are two real reasons that many triathletes shave their legs:
Firstly, aesthetics. Teddy bear legs hanging out of a tri-suit is truly not a look!
More importantly, pain prevention.
If you hit the deck, then all that hair gets ground into your leg and the docs have to pull it out of the wound before treating you. Which is bloody agony!
Also, massage and treatment is far better minus the hair.
And another one - when swimming long distances, your armpit hair can get all knotted up and cause pulls in your skin - not pleasant!
Best Hair Removal Tips for Triathletes?
There are a number of hair removal methods and products available, and as most of them are targeted at the female beauty industry it can be very hard for athletes, especially male athletes, to decide which method is best for them. I can honestly say I have tried the lot over the years, so read on for my low-down!
Shaving with a razor is the most obvious choice, but can produce stubble rash, razor burn and sharp prickly re-growth.
2. Hair Removal Cream
Hair removal cream works well, but you have to repeat regularly and it is expensive. Plus, as a bloke dear god don't get it near your nuts! It's like someone has blow-torched your scrotum and then poured vinegar on it!
3. Hair Removal Pads
Hair removal pads are a bit like very fine, soft pumice stones that you rub in a circular motion on your skin and they literally rub off the hair. They work surprisingly well, but it takes ages to cover a whole leg and regrowth is quick, albeit much less stubbly than shaving. I only did it once or twice before I couldn't be bothered and now the (not cheap) pad set is gathering dust under the bathroom sink.
4. Wax / Sugaring
The results from waxing or sugaring are good, but f**k it's painful and the enjoyment on the beautician's face is a picture. Or do it at home and fire it everywhere as you wimp out on every tug.
Just don't use one of these!!! No, really, just don't. It's like waxing, but in slow motion and every second is like the devil is personally ripping out your leg hair.
6. Lazer Treatment
Lazer treatment is my personal favourite. You shave first and then zap with a hand-held thingy that looks a bit like a small hairdryer. Hours of web research told me that the best option is the Philips Lumea, and I have to say I agree. It costs a bit up-front to get the zapper, but I reckon I have easily saved that in razors within the first year. It does take a bit of time (longer than advertised), but over a short period the hair won't come back and then minimal shaving and zapping is needed.
If you want leg hair in the future though, this is not for you as it stops growth after a while. The best bit is no razor rash and you can do it in front of the TV.
Hair Removal for Athletes
In summary, I have tried it all over my many years as an Ironman triathlete and I have settled with Lazer, but at times I have smoother legs than my wife!
I hope you have enjoyed my view of the best hair removal tips for triathletes, and maybe it will help if you are considering removing the fuzz for next season. Do let me know your own tips or if you have found other hair removal options!